Orphaned at the age of 3, Abdul in Sierra Leone has grown up with his uncle's family. When World Vision came to his community, his family grew when he was sponsored. Read how Abdul's life – and the lives of his whole family and community – has been improved through sponsorship and World Vision's Gift Catalog!
A rough start
Abdul Massaquoi, now 14, was just 7 months old when his mother died. At age 3, his father died, too. His father’s brother, Sheriff Senesie, who already had three children, took in Abdul and raised him as his own son.
Life in their village, Upper Saama in Sierra Leone, isn’t easy, so taking on another child was a burden for Sheriff and his wife Sombo. Food, school supplies, and tuition were hard to come by. But they loved Abdul as their own son, and he called Sheriff “dad.” He didn’t even know that he was an orphan until recently.
Change for the better
World Vision came to this community in 2006, and Abdul, being among the most vulnerable children in the village, was sponsored. Through sponsorship, Abdul has received schoolbooks, a mattress, and a bicycle. And more recently, the family received goats through the Gift Catalog.
“I thought that day was so special,” says Abdul. “I had seen other children have goats, and now I was the lucky one.”
Livestock in this community are critical for financial stability. Families only eat their goats at special events or holidays, so most often, the goats and their offspring are used as a kind of currency to obtain necessary goods and services.
All the money Sheriff has made from the livestock has gone to support Abdul’s education. He sold one goat for 40,000 leones (a little more than US$9) to pay for his school fees. The sale of other goats also helps buy school uniforms, and supplies like notebooks and pencils.
“Through those livestock, I’m finally attending to his welfare,” says Sheriff.
The best part about a goat? It produces more goats, and when it does, Sheriff will give the offspring to another family in need in their village. As the goats continue to reproduce, Sheriff will slowly build the family flock, ensuring that Abdul is always well cared for.
Of all the gifts he has received, Abdul likes his bicycle the best. One day he got a note from the local World Vision staff notifying him that he was a lucky boy and was going to get a bike.
“I was really happy when I heard the news,” says Abdul. He’s been using the bike to give rides to his friends, but when he starts secondary school in a few months, he’ll need to use it for his commute.
Abdul also appreciates his mattress, because before he received it, he was sleeping on a hard bench with dried grass as a cushion. The new bed helps him sleep better.
“I was very happy,” he says. “It was very soft and comfortable.” He laughs and says that sometimes he sleeps so late that his dad has to come and yell to wake him up for school.
“I am happy because I have seen my son very happy,” says Sheriff. “Now life is better.”
A gift for everyone
But a better life is more than just goats and bicycles. For Sheriff, the benefits of World Vision’s work in his hometown are much greater, benefitting every family.
“There is a vast difference,” he says, since World Vision came seven years ago. He says that he’s seen overall school enrollment increase, in part thanks to the goats that help with school expenses.
But higher school attendance is also due to training World Vision has done with the adults in the community about the importance of educating their children, and also children’s rights. As a result, Sheriff has seen a great darkness in his community subside.
Rape and child abuse have decreased, as has teen pregnancy. And education is on the rise.
“What I admire most about World Vision is that we used to have very high levels of teen pregnancy,” says Sheriff. “Now there are more enrollments of girl children in schools.”
From dependent consumers to prosperous sellers
Chief Benson Nallo, the leader of Upper Saama, received one of the first goats from the World Vision project, so he could learn how to care for it, maximize the benefits, and then teach his people.
He says that in barren times, his community had to buy goats from other villages. Now other villages buy goats from Upper Saama.
Selling goats has enabled the village to rehabilitate a broken water pump to bring clean water to every household. And thanks to more Gift Catalog funding, the children now have a brand new primary school. Soon, they hope to have a market and make Upper Saama a thriving economic center in rural Sierra Leone.
Chief Benson is overjoyed, and thanks World Vision for all their work. “The praise is right from the bottom of my heart,” he says.
* * *
Children like Abdul are why we do the work that we do, and why our volunteer network of Child Ambassadors reach out into their communities to help connect more boys and girls with sponsors all across America. Every child has a story and a chance at a better life, and every sponsor helps make those dreams come true.
You can help a child feel special and lucky, and give him or her a better life. Consider sponsoring a child like Abdul in Sierra Leone today!